I remember my first encounter with boys. It was primary school and must have been at least Yr. 3 because I remember we were allowed on the “big playground” which was reserved for KS2. I remember my friends telling me about two boys at school who really liked me; I’ll call them Ivan and Douglas. Ivan was a really sweet boy and he even bought me a ring on a school trip once. (Insert cute smiley face) I remember he had lovely fair hair and sparkly blue eyes. I also had a crush on him but I was shy and embarrassed so I used to shrug off his adorable passes at me. As for Douglas, he was a naughty school boy, always in trouble and making the girls cry. Naturally I accepted his advances and we enjoyed a deep and romantic 3 days together – until he gave me a necklace which I found out he had previously given to another girl… A-Bu-Bye! I dumped him and threw the necklace at him, much to his dismay. Of course by then it was too late with Ivan, whose ship had sailed so to speak. Then, along came Ant (again, name changed). My first kiss. Again, a sweet boy but I wasn’t that interested. As far as I was concerned he was too soft and mushy. We had a lovely friendship for a while, he’d “call on me” and ask my mum if I was going out to play and we’d build dens in the woods at the top of our road. I remember when we were climbing trees one day and he decided to sneakily kiss my hand and left an uncomfortable wet patch lingering. When we eventually kissed with lips I hated the wet, slimy feeling that was left over and I quickly proceeded to tell him that I liked being his friend and maybe kissing shouldn’t be part of that! I was no older than 9 or so and already I was picky about the kind of boys I liked. It’s a cliché but perhaps the absence of my father growing up, a steady male role model, could have had an effect on how I handled my relationships with boys, plutonic or other-wise and as I’ve gotten older it could have a large part to play in my trust issues and lack of self-esteem.
My first “steady boyfriend” (term used loosely) in school was when I was in year 8. It was toward the end of year eight and finally, after some mediating with friends, I had gotten the attention of my ultimate crush – Lets call this one Andy. We became “boyfriend and girlfriend” and we really did crush on each other. We were on off for the latter part of year eight and all of year nine until we eventually stopped altogether in the beginning of year ten. It was cute though and we even spoke about “S.E.X” (gasp) clearly it never happened and the most that did happen was a snog and a squeeze. Thinking about it now, it’s quite shocking that during the times Andy and I were “off”, our close male friend and I, who remained a close friend of mine throughout my teens and into my early 20s, used to kiss. That’s it. No relationship or anything, we just liked to kiss each other and we came up with a really silly system to let each other know when we wanted to kiss. We’d get out our wallet/purse and that would signal to the other person that a kiss was imminent. (Roll eyes, head shake, head in hands)
Let’s move on… I lost my virginity to my first serious boyfriend. For the sake of this blog we will call him Paul. We met through a friend of mine in college when I was studying hairdressing. I was 17 at the time and obviously by then I had thought a lot about the kind of guy “it” would happen with; let me tell you, Paul was NOT what I had in mind. At this period in my life I didn’t think an awful lot of myself, and the good-looking boys never paid attention to me. I was always the tag along friend. My friends were all prettier than me, slimmer than me and had the better conversations. So naturally when Paul paid attention, I paid attention. He wasn’t a great boyfriend and my friends back then were young and stupid, like me. Once Paul and I ended things, my friends and I would joke and giggle about the size of his “goods” and even though I should have been upset about some of them being with him, we actually found a lot of humour in it and it weirdly brought us closer together for a while. Anyway, I digress. Paul was an odd sort of guy. He loved drama and studied performing art at college and he was a bit of a diva. Seriously. He through a lot of tantrums, hated not getting his own way and one time made himself homeless, regardless of having a family who could help, just to manipulate my mother into letting him move in and stay with us. She didn’t want to see me staying in his dirty bedsit and one time I even told her I was going to leave home to be with him so she really did feel like she had no choice. I was young, daft and didn’t really know what I was doing. Paul had a lot of female friends but I figured at the time that maybe that was a reflection of how cool a guy he is. In touch with his feminine side and all that jazz. Turns out he just liked keeping his options open. His female “Friends” were always shocked to meet me, his girlfriend, and usually greeted me with a look of utter disgust. Paul did many things to me which weren’t very nice and he was my first true lesson in what men were capable of. Of course he cheated. With girls I knew, girls I didn’t. The first time we did anything was at my friends 18th birthday party… we stayed over and he literally just climbed on top of me and went for it. I was so shocked and stunned I didn’t quite realised what was going on and before I knew it he asked me the dreaded question. “Are you a virgin?” – I remember my reply and it still makes me cringe when I think about how awkward and uncomfortable I felt saying it; “I was. I’m not now” and can you believe it? He said nothing, carried on, finished, rolled off and proceeded to ask me if I was on the pill. I was gobsmacked. No I wasn’t on the pill because I wasn’t having sex with anyone and Paul and I had only been seeing one another for a week or so! But we were closer now. Suddenly it felt like we’d been together longer than we had. He made me feel like it was a conscious decision on my part and convinced me to be happy about it. Part of me was happy. I’d joined the “club”. I was no longer a virgin and could now joke with my friends and feel like I knew what they were talking about. But I was also confused. Obviously I wanted to have sex at some point, but I didn’t ask for it then; we hadn’t discussed it. I honestly didn’t know at the time whether I was happy about it and I think I just convinced myself that it was normal. That’s how it happens then… you meet a guy and it just happens. Yeah that’s it then. Fine? I guess.
The next day I went to have my very first ever morning after pill. Alone. Nervous. And quite honestly humiliated. The more I thought about the night before the more uncomfortable I felt – he didn’t ask me. He didn’t give me any warning. Maybe I was just that naive? I didn’t read the signals because I didn’t know them? Maybe I unconsciously said yes to him? Giving him signals with my body language not knowingly? – It was all so confusing. But then when I saw him again, when he came out to see me at my mums house, I was happy again. Of course I lost it willingly, duh. He’s so nice to me and he’s really handsome. Handsome guys don’t like me so just be happy he’s even paying you attention.
My mum’s house was interesting. Lots of interesting and actually, on hindsight, quite disturbing things happened there with Paul which is difficult for me to write down, so I won’t go into too much detail. I’ll put a few pointers and then I’ll move on. Basically, he was angry and young and completely stupid. He’d bully me into doing sexual things with him, convincing me that if I didn’t then that meant I didn’t love him. He was violent a few times. He once threw a tantrum because I caught him texting a friend of mine. (Whilst we were laid in bed together) Totally lost his shit, threw his phone against my wall and then proceeded to throw me against said wall. My mum heard it all, came running in and I convinced her that something had fallen and made the bang. My mum hated him, she knew he wasn’t good to me and finally, after a long talk one day, we teamed up and kicked him out together. He was working that day and we had been chatting about it all and by the time he got back I was seeing the light. We told him to get his stuff and leave. He wasn’t happy but he didn’t protest too much. I think he could see we were serious. At his bed sit, after he eventually moved out of my mums and moved into a house share, I wanted to see him and make sure he was doing okay. He wasn’t doing okay and really played into it, trying to make me feel like he was my responsibility but I stayed strong and told him in no uncertain terms that I was not there to take him back or do anything for him. I’d made him a lunch and wanted to see that he was well, then I would be on my way. He was mad. He decided to try and convince me that the phone he had helped me buy by paying the initial fee was rightfully his and he needed it back as he had no way of contacting anyone since he hadn’t replaced his phone that time he threw it against my wall. When I refused he grabbed it from my hands and smashed it against a wall – his favourite thing to do – and when I got up to walk out he pushed me down a small flight of stairs and threw his tele down after me. We didn’t talk after that and anything I heard about him was through my friends. I moved on fairly quickly with a guy I knew and shared an 18 month relationship with him which was fun, but he had his own set of issues and eventually the relationship broke down.
I want to finish this part off about Paul by saying that since then, years after, I did see him a couple of times. We bumped into each other here or there and he apologised for everything. He grew up and realised how he behaved during that time was wrong. I believe he was lost and confused and for valid reasons which I’m aware of but are personal to him. He’s married now, to a lovely woman I had the pleasure of meeting once.
Moving on: Before I met Paul I was naïve, young and had no idea what so ever about sex. Honestly, I was unaware of what half the things were that my friends talked about. “Oral sex? You mean talking about sex?” “Doggy style? Is that a dance move?” I was so uneducated about it and for some time completely uninterested. My friends were all doing it, I knew that a couple of them had become sexually active from the age of around 14! I mean, seriously? As a mum myself, now, that just seems insane but even back then I was utterly confused as to why they chose to do it. As far as I was concerned my interests laid in shoes, Michael Jackson songs and watching my favourite films. Obviously, as I got older, nature took over and the curiosity inevitably caught up with me. I met Paul around the same time I had started to wonder about what my first time would be like. By that time I was so desperate to feel what it was like to be loved by a boy and have a boy want to touch me in new ways. My friends all knew, and talked about it openly. My college friends would sit in the Student union at lunch and talk about their various sexual encounters and I would listen with intrigue and also confusion. In my head the narrative went something like; how does that happen? I wonder if that was sticky. That can’t have tasted good! Why would you put something in there? What’s one of those? – Of course I never actually asked these questions out loud. I just sat, nodding, knowingly. I was never ashamed that I was a virgin, everyone knew it. No one teased me, they just accepted that I was okay with it and it was a personal choice I made. They were decent people.
I was always attracted to love. The thought of real love. Romance. Being swept away by something that feels magical and makes you tingle with joy. The thought of one man being able to hold your entire heart in the palm of his hand is now terrifying. Even now, happily married, I am terrified at the thought of being vulnerable. Unfortunately, and in no means do I mean all men, but in my experience, the men I have encountered have always been out to get what they want regardless of consequences and if there should be any consequences, then it was always turned around on me. Made to be my fault. Now I am not perfect, I make mistakes but It’s disturbing to me how someone can say they love their partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband but be capable of repeatedly lying to them or sneaking around behind their back, betraying their trust. Are we not supposed to learn from our mistakes? Not apologise for them and repeat them. I still to this day have self-esteem and trust issues. My marriage isn’t perfect, we’ve had our ups and some serious downs but were here, together. Stronger and happier each day and I believe, that even though my fist relationship was not a healthy one, I learnt a lot from it. About myself, about the kind of relationship I want and about how people should treat one another. Ultimately I learned how to stand up for myself and walk away when I am unhappy. We all struggle with our insecurities, but instead of letting them control you, turn the table. Stand up to your insecurities, whether they’re about trust, self-esteem or other and say to them “you’re mine, I am not yours. You have arrived because of my experiences and I will decide where you fit into my life. I will learn from you, but I will not let you rule me”.
Signed ~ Me 🙂